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Saturday, November 2, 2013

A skating summary, 2010-2014ish

With the Grand Prix season in full swing and the Olympics just months away, I am becoming nostalgic about events and performances in the past few years. Being an organized sort of person, this naturally meant I had to make a list:

Favorite competition: 2011 Europeans. Sarah Meier's farewell win is one reason, but it was fun all around, with a major medal - finally - for Péchalat/Bourzat, a great debut for Florent Amodio, free skate comebacks by Carolina Kostner and especially Brian Joubert, and generally likeable medalists all around, including the Kerrs in their final competitive event. It is a good thing that I did not witness any of this in person, however, because I would likely have frozen to death.
Honorable mention: 2012 World Team Trophy, for the fun factor and the awesomeness of Akiko Suzuki and Daisuke Takahashi.

All the skaters of the world know that Dai is awesome

Favorites, ladies
Performance(s): Sarah Meier at 2011 Euros for sheer emotional impact. Carolina Kostner's LP at 2012 Worlds, Kostner's and Akiko Suzuki's SPs at the 2012 World Team Trophy.
Program: Kostner's 2011-12 Shostakovich SP, because I never thought anyone could actually skate to that music. Honorable mention: Akiko Suzuki's O program in 2012-13 and her fun 2011-12 SP. My favorite so far this season is Ashley Wagner's SP.
Storyline: watching noted headcase Kostner finally get it together and get recognized for more than just her speed and skills has been a joy. I love that she has been on every podium since the 2010-11 season began and hope she will continue this streak until she retires.
Moment: Meier catches sight of the #1 at 2011 Euros. 

Favorites, men
Performance: Daisuke Takahashi's SP was stunning during the Grand Prix and at the 2012 World Team Trophy. As my sentimental choice, Brian Joubert's Matrix LP at 2012 Worlds. Honorable mention: Takahiko Kozuka's LP saved the men's event at the 2010 Trophée Eric Bompard for me and still deserves an ovation.
Programs: Takahashi's 2011-12 programs were both fabulous; I refuse to pick one. I have yet to find a program from this season to really get behind.
Storyline: The Rise of the Obscure Skaters - Javier Fernandez started from the lowest point imaginable and took the long way to the top of the skating world; now he is a force to be reckoned with. Denis Ten's stunning performance at 2013 Worlds finally made good on the promise he showed in his 2009 Worlds debut.
Moment: Amodio and Joubert hug it out backstage at 2011 Euros.

Wave that flag, Takahiko!
Favorites, pairs
Performance: Savchenko and Szolkowy's Pina LP at the 2011-12 Grand Prix Final. Honorable mention: their Pink Panther at the Bompard a year earlier made me happy.
Programs: Pina is the best pairs and dance program of the past Olympic quad. Honorable mention: Kavaguti and Smirnov's Clair de Lune (2010-12) and February (2012-13) LPs were both lovely. Of this season's programs, Duhamel and Radford's SP seems promising, and Savchenko/Szolkowy's Nutcracker could be great if they get it together (not that it will help them, as matters stand at the moment).
Moment: Rudi Swiegers donating his skate to Mark Ladwig at the 2011 Four Continents; Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran react to their marks and the resulting medal at 2012 Worlds.

As good as it got

Favorites, dance
Performance: Péchalat/Bourzat's gutsy skate on home ice at the 2012 World Championships, she skating with a broken nose, with several years of almost-podium finishes in their record. I was so nervous watching it - and I can't imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been for them! Honorable mention: the Kerrs' 2011 farewell with the Exogenesis free dance.
Programs: slim pickings if you don't like the top two teams. I was fond of Péchalat/Bourzat's Doctor Zhivago short dance, one of the few coherent examples of the short dance that I have seen, as well as their Chaplin free dance. Cappellini and Lanotte's La Strada was also nice, helped, I'll admit, by the exceedingly cute costumes. The Kerrs' Exogenesis wins for me, though - such a beautiful program and a fitting sendoff for them. I have my eye on Hurtado/Diaz's Picasso FD this season, and hope that once they perform it well, it will be a breakthrough program for them.
Moment: Continuing with the Péchalat/Bourzat theme, Kaitlyn Weaver rushing over to congratulate them when they came off the ice at 2012 Worlds - not only was it good sportsmanship, it was obvious that she was genuinely happy, and that's not something we see all that often, even among training mates.

A great performance to go out with

Miscellaneous picks
Favorite choreographers: the people who put the programs together deserve credit, too! I was impressed with work done by Ingo Steuer, Peter Tchernyshev, and Jeffrey Buttle; and by certain programs by Lori Nichol (specifically, the ones she did for Kostner in previous seasons), Pasquale Camerlengo (responsible for Suzuki's Die Fledermaus and O and Takahashi's Blues For Klook), and David Wilson (Takahashi's In the Garden of Souls was a stunner).

Favorite galas: Misha Ge's, Péchalat/Bourzat's George of the Jungle (the inflatable alligator!), Javier Fernandez's Aerobics Class, Mao Poppins, and Tomas Verner and Anton Kovalevski performing a truly definitive Carmen that cannot possibly be topped.

Ending on a happy note:
Mao Asada with the cutest program of this Olympic quad 

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